States reiterate opposition to federal transmission siting proposals

WASHINGTON—National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Philip Jones of Washington issued the following statement recognizing the Bipartisan Policy Center’s report, “Capitalizing on an Evolving Power Sector: Policies for a Modern and Reliable U.S. Electric Grid,” released today:

“The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners staff was pleased to participate in the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Grid Initiative project as a resource. This report takes a comprehensive view of the transmission system, and our members have yet to digest its conclusions. On a personal note, I want to thank the BPC for reaching out to us and maintaining an open and honest dialogue. While NARUC commends the Bipartisan Policy Center for the quality and scope of this report, we do not endorse any of the recommendations included. As an association, NARUC sets its policies through resolutions, and we have not taken positions on many of the policies outlined in the report.

“NARUC strongly opposes the recommendations calling for the expansion of the federal government’s authority to site transmission facilities. The report recommends that Congress give federal regulators permission to overrule a legitimate State decision determining that a power line is unnecessary if a nearby State with different needs and resources says that it is. Essentially this policy would give one State de-facto siting authority over another, which is certainly against congressional intent. Moreover, where current law limits the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s backstop authority to power lines in so-called ‘National Interest Electricity Transmission Corridors,’ the report recommends greatly expanding FERC’s authority nationwide. Therefore, this recommendation abandons the existing law’s goal of improving the efficiency of the transmission network by reducing congestion in favor of policies that increase rates for retail customers who receive little or no benefits, without necessary and proper oversight by the States.

The NARUC members that site new transmission lines have authorized significant new investment; indeed there remains little evidence that a failure to ‘update the grid’ is widespread or attributable to State recalcitrance sufficient to justify the kind of sweeping new legislation that this report recommends.

NARUC’s opposition to this specific recommendation is consistent with its previous positions regarding state authority to site transmission lines.”